27% of Senate Press Releases Taunt Other Side

Professor analyzes writings, finds lots of name calling
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2011 11:30 AM CDT
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., walk to speak to reporters after their meeting at the White House in Washington with President Obama, April 6, 2011.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – This could explain why Congress is having such a hard time agreeing on a budget: Its members are too busy taunting one another. A Harvard professor analyzed the writings of Congress members, and found that about 27% of the time, they're just insulting each other. “It’s jarring and surprising,” he tells the Washington Post. "The entire government may go bankrupt, I guess. This week, right? We probably want our representatives to be listening to each other rather than calling each other names."

The professor analyzed 64,033 press releases sent by US senators between 2005 and 2007 and separated them into categories: "credit-claiming," "position-taking," and "advertising." But a fourth category emerged when he realized that, "sometimes, they just stand up there and taunt the other side." As a follow-up, the professor analyzed a week's worth of recent news releases from three top Democrats and three top Republicans in Congress; he found that 20% were mainly focused on jeering. Click for Jon Stewart's recent rant on this topic.

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